In episode #170 which was posted in 2017, I chose the app Headspace as the Petit Plaisir. Having been recommended this meditation app in 2016 by a friend who I met during my first year living in Bend, I began to dabble with curiosity into regularly meditating by attempting 3-minute sessions once a day. As I share in the episode, my friend had been meditating for quite a while and spoke highly of its benefits. Appreciating her calm energy and loving presence toward everyone she came into contact with (dogs too!), she modeled with great credibility the benefits of what the practice of meditation claims to cultivate and instill in our daily lives, so I didn’t hesitate to explore the app.
My ability as I began to welcome this new routine to be consistent with daily practice waned in the first three or so years. I would stretch to 5-minutes on some days, forget to meditate on other days, and purport that the blame lie outside of myself and instead on a too full work (both teaching and blogging) schedule. However, I never gave it up, and with my continued research and reading into living mindfully and cultivating a life of contentment, the practice of meditation never ceased to be excluded from the discussion in my findings as one of the key tools to incorporate in order to be able to live with deep inner peace and everyday true contentment, so I continued meditating. During the summer months (as I share in the first IG post you will see below written in the summer of 2017), when school was on break, it became much easier to get into a rhythm of meditating, something I love to do with my dogs on the porch, as shown on Instagram beginning back in 2017 (the first two), and continuing on my porch at Le Papillon, the final photo captured back in October 2022.
To continue the story of my meditation journey, it was in 2020 that I became ardently determined to meditate each day, and did so with the help given by the pandemic to remain at home. At this point, I was practicing 5-minutes a day, and then by the end of 2020, I began to meditate for 10-minutes a day, and have continued doing so ever since.
I have begun from time to time to meditate twice a day, adding an evening session. A needed practice that each time I engage in doing so, I find my sleep deeper and sounder, which is all the more reason to do so. However, this has not become a regular daily practice, but I am putting more intention into making it so.
But it was just this past week that I reached a total of 10,000 minutes of meditating as I use the Headspace app when I do so, so it records all sorts of statistics. Now this is not a competition with anyone and actually not even a competition with myself, as competition is also something I have let go of and found great liberation in doing so. More than anything, I share this milestone along with my journey to reaching it to share that while it takes time to see and experience the benefits of meditation, the benefits are priceless and worth the consistent effort of a habit that in time I am confident you will find to be a joy to partake in as you discover how the quality of your overall life in every aspect will deepen.
And it is also important to note that where I am in my journey with meditation, having needed nearly 10,000 minutes to realize the benefits, does not mean it will take you that many, or maybe it will take more. Each of our journeys with meditation will be unique to each of us due to so many different variables.
I now have a deep enjoyment of partaking in my meditation ritual each morning, and it has become part of my regular morning routine that involves the dogs as well, so they too nudge me to never forget to make time for it as they receive a special treat when Mom sits down to meditate.
My Daily Meditation Ritual
Following pouring myself a hot cup of lemon water in a favorite teacup and saucer, in the summer, I step out onto the garden porch and situate myself, or in the colder months, place my designated meditation pillow on my living room ottoman, and sit down upon it so as to gaze outside upon the bird garden. It is the ritualization that has helped in part make this a habit I most enjoy as I began to become more comfortable with the practice, and now that I am witnessing the benefits of the practice in my daily life, as I will share below, that is the driving motivator as I now see the improvement in my life and I know meditation has played a role in making these changes possible.
Let’s take a look at the positive changes I have experienced in my life so far:
The Benefits I Have Witnessed in My Daily Life
An improved ability to respond rather than react, especially in stressful or unwanted situations.
By giving myself time to respond, as well as time to decide if responding is necessary, I ensure I am contributing to a beneficial outcome for all rather than fanning unwanted flames. Meditation, both through its intentional awareness of my breath and practice of holding myself in the present moment, has enabled me to notice when my heart rate increases and to acknowledge my stress is rising due to the present situation which then tells me not to react as I might have otherwise in the past, and pay attention to my breathing, thinking before I say anything that would have in the past been done out of self-protection and thus likely meant to hurt or wound or push someone back if I felt I had been attacked (verbally and figuratively, in my experiences).
~Learn more about the differences between responding vs. reacting in episode #145.
Knowing that Having an opinion isn’t worth my energy
This is not to say, I don’t have preferences and passions, but rather, it is an awareness that my opinion about anything outside of the decisions in my life are not necessary. Unless I am an expert in a field that is being discussed and I can contribute something of value with credible support from other sources beyond myself, then simply stating an opinion that may heighten or divide a conversation or situation is energy ill-invested.
Realizing that Judgment is Futile
Similarly to the above point about opinions, casting judgment is often an exercise of the ego, an ego that we haven’t kept in check.
“Judgement is either to confuse someone’s unconscious behavior with who they are or to project your own unconsciousness onto another person and mistake that for who they are. “~Eckhart Tolle, from his book The Power of Now, a book that inspired episode #350
Understanding that Comparison is Unnecessary
So many of the benefits of meditation come in the form of letting go of practices that unnecessarily drain energy but also distract us from enjoying an amazing life that already exists if only we would get out of the way by letting go of unhelpful mental habits. Comparison is one such habit. In episode #286, I explored the topic of How to Let Go of Comparison? and shared that it really boils down to Healing Ourselves. A meditation practice is part of the healing journey.
A keen awareness develops: The ability to see a situation clearly and more objectively
Oh, this is probably the most significant and powerful change witnessed in my own life because I have begun to notice two things I had not prior to the benefits of regular meditation coupled with the knowledge gained from the many books and experts I have been a student from over the years. First, I am able to acknowledge I attract what I put out into the world, and when someone behaves toward me in a manner that is uncomfortable or unsettling, first, I am now able to understand and honor that I am uncomfortable and why precisely that is. And then I am also able to acknowledge upon reflection into my past when I may have behaved in a similar way. Seeing such behavior in reverse, so receiving that negative or unwanted energy, is a powerful deterrent to ever behaving in such a manner again as we don’t want anyone to feel as we did in that situation.
Second, because I am able to refrain from reacting, when a situation occurs that is unwanted or uncomfortable or frightening, I can clearly determine that their behavior is reflecting something from within them. How I feel in that moment is something I note as well. Do I feel safe? Do I feel seen? Do I feel heard, respected, etc.? Or do I feel the opposite and thus need to acknowledge this may not be a situation or person that definitely in this moment is not one to engage in or with, and maybe, after more reflection, never or at least quite differently so has to honor my needs and respect my journey.
It has become a deeply healing and peace-bringing awareness that has arrived in my life as in the former example, I am acknowledging where I need to grow, how I need to heal, and taking responsibility for my self-growth; and in the second example, I finally am finding validation for the discomfort I have felt for years around certain people – specifically or generally a type, and now know through interactions that involve unwanted behavior by others had nothing to do with me and everything to do with them; something about me was a trigger, and so long as I was holding myself in my integrity and partaking with loving-kindness, my conscience rests easy. As we have shared before, we are responsible for tending to our tasks awhile others are responsible for theirs. When we take on their responsibilities, their tasks, we bring into our lives unnecessary suffering and worry (explore episode #301 – The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment, inspired by the book The Courage to Be Disliked)
Discovering what Wanting is and How to Let Go
And even more surprisingly perhaps, that we are content with or without that which we think we want. Often we want something, thinking it will fill a gap that we have in our lives of any sort – large or small. And it’s not that we cannot acquire things or improve things, whether it is purchasing quality ingredients for our meals or on a grand scale, wanting to take that vacation. We can experience these desires; however, it is in the thinking that without certain things or outcomes that we will not be content. The truth is the power to be content resides within each of us and cannot be purchased or given to us.
With that said, meditation helps us to acknowledge what we need to heal within ourselves in order to know this to be true in our lives, to experience it and receive the benefit of living a life of contentment and thus a deep inner peace.
Recently, in a yoga class, our yoga instructor shared a bit of wisdom that after class, I made an effort to have her repeat it so that I would remember it correctly. “When it comes to attachment and letting go of attachment, it is not that we cannot own anything, it is that nothing owns us.”
When I heard those words, it helped to clarify how Want dances about in our lives. Does it (Want) lead the dance or is it simply the background music that we can change or turn off? In other words, when we think we cannot live well without external attachments – be it people or things – then we are creating unnecessary suffering; but if we recognize that we are not owned by our wants and that our contentment is in our sole control by choosing to bravely do the work of healing and getting to know ourselves and then courageously embracing and sharing with the world our true selves, then Want is kept in its proper place, and we are on the path to experiencing true peace.
And so back to how meditation has helped when it comes to wanting. Because I am more present, fully in the moment, when something – an advertisement for a product, an offer for an experience/trip/gathering/class/etc., I am able to observe these as wants, and not feel so enticed that I will make a rash decision that I will later regret or that will not be necessary to the life I am living. I can also, if it is a want, such as travel or that special detail for my house, that indeed I do desire, I can acknowledge it is a want, but then also ensure I hold the reins of how or when I purchase or welcome the experience or item or relationship into my life.
Find loving words of strength to honor my needs
I shared above about the deepening of clear awareness that meditation has helped become part of my life, and partnered with my ability to see clearly what is happening when it involves events and people outside of myself is to use that clarity to speak clearly, but lovingly either to set my boundary or express my needs.
For example, if someone in jest were to call me a hurtful name, something they may have done repeatedly in the past, but previously I had let slide because I didn’t have the words or they had said it in a way that was dubiously ‘light-hearted’, yet each time it hurt my feelings, now, I have said with clarity, yet calmly, “Please don’t call me that. You have hurt my feelings.” Or if someone has crossed a boundary that I have clearly set before, maybe multiple times before, I am now able to in the moment say, “Please stop. I have asked you before to not do [whatever the boundary is].” And then I don’t defend my reasoning, and just let it be said, concluding the conversation. Then either moving on in discussion or the conversation comes to an end and I am at peace with that because it is not my task to change them. My task is how I engage and whether or not I choose to honor my needs. (Listen to episode #343, How Setting Healthy Boundaries Contributes to True Contentment.)
There may be what previously I would have felt as discomfort afterwards, but what I have discovered is that with each such interaction where I speak up for myself lovingly (how I speak – my chosen words and tone) yet with strength (to honor and be loving toward myself), the discomfort following the interaction, whatever the other person’s reaction may be, is less and less because I am at peace with how I engaged.
Deeply savoring all the beauty around me in any given moment
Upon reflection of my life, whether due to my innate nature or nurturing by my environment while growing up – likely both, I have taken great delight in simple, everyday beauty, things and events. However, this was more unconscious in my youth. Now, through the practice of meditation and again, further reading and learning, I am consciously aware of the power of holding myself in the present and thereby being able to see more clearly, especially when I have the intention, of finding what is beautiful, working well, going well, etc. And because it is a conscious practice, I find and see and experience more to savor than I ever have before.
Greater clarity of how to cultivate a life that brings me to life fully
Through the strengthening of awareness because meditation deepens our ability to be fully present in the moment, not only do I see clearly where my attention is drawn, and what then piques my curiosity and delights my eye, I also am more keenly aware of where I feel most at peace, what or with whom and why, and then make better decisions that continue to help me cultivate a life that nourishes me so that I can do what I uniquely can to give to the world.
A deeper self-trust
When we take time to be still regularly through meditation, we are teaching ourselves a great skill of knowing our mind. First, we watch and observe where our mind goes, and then we become more skilled at not letting our mind go where it would be destructive. Destructive to the life we have set with the clear intentions we wish it to be. It’s not that our mind won’t wander. It’s not that we won’t have bad or unwanted days or moments, but rather through meditation I have given myself the development of the muscle to witness, see and then know how to step away from bad habits of thinking so I can nourish what I want rather than what I don’t want.
How is this related to self-trust? I trust myself more fully to handle whatever each day will bring, and as such, I have begun to notice I have more days I absolutely love, and most of them are the everydays. But this didn’t just happen. They we’re nurtured through decisions, actions, thoughts and intentionality, but not expectation or demanding control. Rather a trusting both in myself and in the universe, and delighting in all that crosses my path, even those moments that while uncomfortable in the moment, offer a gift – something to learn, something to know, something to nudge me to do something I wouldn’t have done previously, etc. – that ultimate contribute to the life journey that brings me to life.
Admittedly, I am still a student of meditation, and as I shared above, hoping to deepen my practice further with two sessions each day. But if my journey thus far over the past seven years is any indication, so long as I keep dabbling and know there is value in doing so, I am confident it will become a habit that will be part of my days moving forward.
Below I have compiled over a handful of quotes and words of wisdom from Andy Puddicombe of Headspace, he is the guided expert I select when I sit down for my meditation sessions, but you can choose others in their app, that I have found helpful and inspiring as I progress along my journey to deepening my contentment. I have also shared with each quote, the post or episode where it was further explored.
I do hope you have found something within this post to encourage you to give meditation a try or continue practicing as while it took time in my own journey, I can say wholeheartedly, it has completely changed the quality of my life in the most wonderful of ways. Thank you for stopping by today. Bonne journée.
“The paradox of [contentment] is that it doesn’t matter about our situation of life as meditation gives us freedom in the mind, but [when we cultivate contentment] we want to try to create an environment that is good for our body and mind.” —Andy Puddicombe (from episode #339, The Paradox of True Contentment)
“We might think that we are stuck with the mind we have. That it’s not capable of change, but habits can be unlearned. The mind can let go and our lives can be transformed.” —Andy Puddicombe (from episode #350, The Skill of Presence and Why It is at the Core of True Contentment)
“Finding an ease with what you are thinking, feeling, the world as it is, not necessarily accepting it, but not resisting it. This is contentment.” —Andy Puddicombe (shared in episode #244, Give Yourself the Gift of Contentment Everyday, All Day)
“Creativity arises from silence and stillness.” —Andy Puddicombe (shared in episode #243, 12 Ways to Make Mornings Magical, Mindful and the Foundation of a Great Day and Great Success)
“Sometimes in not knowing ourselves fully, we rely on the opinions of others who also may not know themselves. Much better to take the time to experience and understand ourselves directly.” —Andy Puddicombe (from blog post, A Wise Investment: Understanding Yourself by Taking Off the Blindfold)
Clarity can only be fully acquired when we calm our mind, calm our days, calm our lives. The progression as Andy Puddicombe shares begins with Calm —-(moving next to . . . ) Clarity —-(moving next to . . . ) Contentment —– which then enables us to be readily Compassionate to both ourselves as well as others and the entire world as we move through and with it and them each day. But it is in this order we must travel. We cannot wish to be content if we do not fully know the life that is ours to live. A life that is waiting for us to be courageous enough to step forward with Commitment . . . ” (from episode #295, The Gift of Discontentment (yep, that’s no typo)
“Let go of thinking and rest the mind in awareness. That is when we discover peace of mind.” —Andy Puddicombe (from blog post Awareness + Being Present = Deep Contentment & Peace of Mind)
“The only way we can really find peace of mind is to step out of thinking altogether. Not trying to constantly think our way out of problems. Not trying to think our way out of a busy mind. Instead, stepping back. Allowing the mind to unfold in its own way. So as long as we create the conditions, as long as we create the framework, as long as we apply the techniques in the right way, the mind knows how to unwind. It knows how to let go. All we need to do is give it the space to allow that to happen.” —Andy Puddicombe (from January Ponderings . . . , 2023)
“Life becomes simpler when our lives become calmer.” —Andy Puddicombe (from blog post A Simple Life Lived Well IS Luxurious Living, Let Me Explain)
When it comes to living a fulfilling life, what must be embraced is peace with temporary uncertainty. Certainty and curiosity, Andy Puddicombe pointed out in a recent meditation, cannot exist at the same time. For when we are curious, we seek new information, an answer to our question, an expansion of our knowledge base, thereby the definition of pursuing something UNcertain. (from blog post Intuition and the Truth of Daring to Take the Winding Trail)
“Everything you are looking for is already here.” —Andy Puddicombe (from blog post What is Your ‘Enough’ – aka fulfillment – and How Will You Know?)
“We cannot make love happen; it arises spontaneously when the conditions are right. Similarly, we cannot make awareness happen; it arises spontaneously when the conditions are right.” —Andy Puddicombe (from blog post The 7 Best Long-Term Investment in Life that Require Investing without Certainty of Return)
“We cannot hope to experience peace in the world if we do not have peace in our own life. Inner and outer conflict are not so different. And so this peace begins with transforming our own mind.” — Andy Puddicombe (from blog post How Experiencing Inner Peace Contributes to a Peaceful World)
“Watching your thoughts without judgment.” Andy Puddicombe’s explanation of meditation in a recent session, Headspace (from the blog post 6 Benefits of Meditations and How to Meditate in Your Daily Life)